Night Photography - Simon's basics of how to take photos at night and learn the right camera settings for night photography. Click an image to view the Learning Gallery.
Gear: Camera, Tripod, Torch
1. Manual Mode VS any other
Full Auto modes (iA, green square etc) will see low light so will open the Aperture and push up the ISO to try and get the shutter speed up. This is OK for a snap but not if your looking for long exposure times and small apertures. Also the camera will decide where to focus - this may not be what you want to focus on. You could try ‘night photography’ preset, but I’m not sure what parameters this controls and you have no override control.• Program mode. Lets you control focus and ISO but Aperture and Shutter speed are linked. This can limit your exposure options.
Av (Aperture priority). Lets you set the Aperture. Shutter speed is set by the camera but can be overridden by the exposure +/
Tv (Shutter priority). Lets you set the Shutter speed and the camera sets the Aperture - not helpful for night photography where you may want a small Aperture)
Manual. You're in control of everything
2. Setting the exposure
ISO - High ISO = fast shutter increased noise and no light trails - maybe if you have no tripod this will allow you to get something
Low ISO = slow shutter, low noise, light trail
Aperture - small aperture (11-16) point lights sources turn to stars - but exposure times increas
Shutter - play with it 1 second to 30 seconds. Suggested start point: ISO: 200, Aperture f11 or f16, Shutter: This is now your control of image brightness and will depend on the brightness of the scene. Try starting with 4 seconds
Setting Camera/Lens Image stabilisation on or off. See camera/lens manual for recommendations
Using the self timer to avoid ‘nudging’ the camera as you press the shutter
Remote cable release
Avoid extending centre column - unless you have to - as it reduces stability.
4. Focus In low light some cameras can struggle to auto focus so you may need to focus manually - but that’s unlikely
5. White balance This is anyone's guess as it depends on the lights in the scene. Start with Auto or try Tungsten or Fluorescent.